Kevin Vilbig is a graduating senior from Dallas, Texas, majoring in Social Science. His senior thesis, Hack all the History, is about the hacker quest for the freedom of information. He spent seven weeks in India embedded in a hacker group to complete his research.
“I’ve been to eight schools. I think that’s the number. In between, I spent a lot of time wandering. Went to New Mexico, Albuquerque. I worked on a biodynamic farm in Maine. Drove solo on the road sleeping in my car at rest stops. When I decided that I was going to come to Portland, Oregon, I applied to Portland State. I didn’t know the Honors program existed until my transfer orientation, and there was Professor Fallon. She was standing at this table. All the other people had banners and posters, and she just had a stack of papers. Nothing else. It felt like a good vibe. And it’s been awesome. It’s been like going to a small liberal arts university with all the institutional support of a massive university. We have all the clubs and labs and a massive library and being in downtown Portland, but then class sizes of only 20 or 15 people. It opened me up to opportunities to go to Vietnam and to India, where I worked on my thesis. I’m looking at the hacker idea that information should be free, which is really problematic for some people. Honors helped me get to India to do research, they helped me come up with the proposal and shape the idea and get funding. The program has let me explore. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything like this otherwise. There’s just no way.”